March median sold price, units, DOM, and $/sq.ft.

March’s median sold price rose to $176,000, or 3.5 percent over February’s median of $170,000.  However, March’s sold price per square foot fell 2.9 percent, to $98.48, from February’s sold price per square foot.

The number of houses sold in March was a robust 455 units – a very strong showing for a March.

Speaking of short sales, March’s sales breakout was:

  • Bank-owned properties – 37.4%
  • Short sales – 33.4%
  • Equity sales – 27.0%

For those readers who prefer the median sold price for houses and condos combined, March’s combined median sold price was $160,000; unchanged from February’s combined median of $160,000.

Month Year #Sold Sold Price Sold Price per SqFt Average DOM
Mar 2010 455 $176,000 $98.48 141
Feb 2010 336 $170,000 $101.43 138
Jan 2010 344 $167,000 $97.06 134
Dec 2009 420 $176,500 $101.15 127
Nov 2009 460 $175,000 $103.51 112
Oct 2009 560 $180,000 $103.65 124
Sep 2009 520 $185,948 $103.31 128
Aug 2009 482 $179,900 $102.64 116
Jul 2009 515 $180,000 $103.45 126
Jun 2009 536 $180,317 $104.09 136
May 2009 425 $175,000 $102.31 139
Apr 2009 429 $190,000 $105.71 133
Mar 2009 369 $200,000 $105.85 133
Feb 2009 293 $205,000 $111.52 132
Jan 2009 233 $200,000 $113.04 117
Dec 2008 294 $218,950 $121.74 145
Nov 2008 269 $220,000 $122.24 152
Oct 2008 354 $230,000 $131.43 144
Sep 2008 358 $239,250 $136.72 145
Aug 2008 321 $250,000 $142.14 140
Jul 2008 397 $251,000 $145.48 139
Jun 2008 369 $262,500 $148.05 142
May 2008 314 $260,215 $152.30 134
Apr 2008 314 $275,000 $154.05 172
Mar 2008 238 $274,000 $150.93 166
Feb 2008 195 $289,000 $156.48 149
Jan 2008 165 $285,000 $170.23 146
Dec2007 228 $283,950 $167.22 143
Nov2007 204 $299,750 $172.24 126
Oct2007 241 $296,000 $173.55 116
Sep2007 230 $299,945 $179.46 114
Aug2007 311 $305,000 $182.49 118
Jul2007 300 $315,000 $189.78 113
Jun2007 329 $320,000 $196.78 104
May2007 364 $313,200 $190.81 107
Apr2007 320 $309,500 $193.93 121
Mar2007 324 $315,000 $189.61 121
Feb 2007 269 $315,000 $191.18 126
Jan 2007 245 $312,900 $199.79 133
Dec2006 291 $309,000 $193.51 114
Nov2006 281 $318,000 $197.32 111
Oct 2006 363 $312,400 $201.44 105
Sep2006 344 $314,950 $198.08 98
Aug2006 349 $325,000 $210.92 94
Jul2006 373 $335,000 $210.62 93
Jun2006 424 $339,000 $214.54 91
May2006 374 $339,950 $219.05 99
Apr2006 368 $334,600 $212.08 88
Mar2006 387 $340,000 $215.54 99
Feb 2006 283 $335,000 $217.29 101
Jan 2006 274 $365,000 $216.38 98
Dec2005 333 $355,000 $217.31 89
Nov2005 385 $349,000 $220.00 81
Oct2005 484 $359,450 $223.06 77
Sep2005 531 $354,500 $219.26 77
Aug2005 582 $360,500 $220.52 73
Jul2005 608 $353,000 $218.99 71
Jun2005 679 $350,000 $215.69 69
May2005 644 $333,250 $209.95 68
Apr2005 558 $326,750 $207.57 77
Mar2005 584 $325,000 $200.17 81
Feb 2005 342 $318,500 $197.54 88
Jan 2005 341 $310,000 $195.19 85
Dec2004 450 $312,500 $190.72 77
Nov2004 448 $309,950 $191.62 63
Oct2004 512 $299,250 $188.72 53
Sep2004 496 $292,750 $185.78 61
Aug2004 505 $285,000 $182.95 56
Jul2004 544 $304,300 $179.28 61
Jun2004 533 $285,000 $172.16 65
May2004 476 $278,750 $169.64 65
Apr2004 526 $259,950 $158.08 67
Mar2004 508 $245,000 $142.56 71
Feb 2004 365 $237,000 unavailable 81
Jan 2004 379 $229,000 unavailable 78
Dec2003 441 $240,000 unavailable 82
Nov2003 444 $220,750 unavailable 78
Oct2003 430 $219,880 unavailable 76
Sep2003 587 $223,000 unavailable 71
Aug2003 512 $220,000 unavailable 75
Jul2003 533 $210,000 unavailable 77
Jun2003 475 $207,000 unavailable 77
May2003 450 $198,950 unavailable 85
Apr2003 478 $197,750 unavailable 82
Mar 2003 428 $192,000 unavailable 77
Feb 2003 321 $186,895 unavailable 79
Jan 2003 316 $186,000 unavailable 96
Dec2002 379 $193,500 unavailable 93
Nov2002 423 $190,000 unavailable 82
Oct2002 483 $189,900 unavailable 83
Sep2002 410 $174,000 unavailable 85
Aug2002 459 $180,000 unavailable 74
Jul2002 469 $176,000 unavailable 83
Jun2002 445 $185,000 unavailable 80
May2002 470 $178,450 unavailable 77
Apr2002 360 $169,500 unavailable 93
Mar 2002 377 $169,000 unavailable 84
Feb 2002 323 $170,900 unavailable 89
Jan 2002 268 $172,475 unavailable 99
Dec2001 287 $182,000 unavailable 86
Nov2001 323 $161,500 unavailable 85
Oct2001 357 $166,500 unavailable 79
Sep2001 355 $168,000 unavailable 81
Aug2001 448 $160,350 unavailable 84
Jul2001 433 $169,900 unavailable 90
Jun2001 426 $166,225 unavailable 96
May2001 404 $162,050 unavailable 97
Apr2001 370 $158,750 unavailable 94
Mar 2001 385 $159,900 unavailable 97
Feb 2001 294 $159,950 unavailable 103
Jan 2001 264 $165,000 unavailable 102
Dec2000 272 $156,500 unavailable 100
Nov2000 355 $154,500 unavailable 93
Oct 2000 348 $153,000 unavailable 98
Sep2000 356 $160,000 unavailable 104
Aug2000 412 $163,375 unavailable 94
Jul2000 368 $155,000 unavailable 110
Jun2000 466 $165,845 unavailable 104
May2000 363 $158,000 unavailable 105
Apr2000 312 $155,000 unavailable 113
Mar 2000 339 $162,700 unavailable 102
Feb 2000 244 $149,620 unavailable 110
Jan 2000 217 $156,000 unavailable 112
Dec 1999 264 $155,000 unavailable 118
Nov 1999 293 $149,900 unavailable 98
Oct 1999 289 $147,895 unavailable 108
Sep 1999 311 $157,000 unavailable 106
Aug 1999 360 $148,500 unavailable 112
Jul 1999 375 $147,800 unavailable 105
Jun1999 372 $150,000 unavailable 103
May 1999 307 $145,500 unavailable 106
Apr1999 324 $151,700 unavailable 111
Mar 1999 308 $151,000 unavailable 121
Feb1999 249 $148,900 unavailable 120
Jan 1999 210 $143,000 unavailable 115
Dec 1998 265 $140,000 unavailable 118
Nov 1998 279 $153,000 unavailable 126
Oct1998 286 $142,825 unavailable 115
Sep 1998 279 $144,500 unavailable 102
Aug 1998 331 $145,000 unavailable 113
Jul 1998 335 $150,000 unavailable 108
Jun 1998 351 $148,500 unavailable 103
May 1998 302 $145,500 unavailable 99
Apr 1998 235 $149,000 unavailable 111
Mar 1998 267 $142,500 unavailable 114
Feb 1998 201 $139,900 unavailable 126
Jan 1998 165 $149,490 unavailable 131

Note: The medians table above is updated on a monthly basis. The median home price data reported covers the cities of Reno, Nevada and Sparks, Nevada [NNRMLS Area #100]. Residential data includes Site/Stick Built properties only. Data excludes Condo/Townhouse, Manufactured/Modular and Shared Ownership properties. Data courtesy of the Northern Nevada Regional MLS – April 2010.  Note: This information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.

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About Guy Johnson

I am a licensed Nevada REALTOR® living and working in Reno, Nevada. Give me a call at 775-722-4011. My team and I will be happy to assist you with your real estate needs.
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49 Responses to March median sold price, units, DOM, and $/sq.ft.

  1. Avatar Phil says:

    Things seem to be moving once again in our neighborhood in Spanish Springs (R&B homes, Desert Highlands at Cimmeron East). A house on the street is now in escrow (sold over 400K), and a builder is finishing a home, and starting three more.

    My dad in San Jose is trying his luck with buying a house on the courthouse steps in San Jose. Should be interesting.

  2. Avatar MikeZ says:

    Anoteh rmonth fo relative stability?

    That’s impossible. How can that be? Haven’t you heard, the market’s crashing! Next month’s median price is gonna be $1,000, just like Detroit!!

  3. Avatar KingBud says:

    The way I’m interpreting the stats is that home prices on a nominal basis declined 55% from 10/2005 to 8/2009. Since 8/2009, prices have been essentially flat.

    Are we living right now in the bottom of what will be a “U”-shaped recovery in home prices? Who knows. None of us have a crystal ball.

    But if I had to guess, my guess is that the last 7 months represent a temporary pause in what will be a continuing downturn in home prices. I wouldn’t call it a double-dip because that implies that there was a temporary uptick in prices, which Reno has not seen.

    The reason I expect resumption of the downturn in prices is that the Nevada economy is not improving in terms of unemployment. And with continued tight credit, the end of the federal purchasing of mortgages at the end of last month, expected higher interest rates within the next couple of years, and continuing foreclosure inventory, it would be hard to justify price appreciation in homes.

    I think any Reno homeowner should be happy if there is simple price stabilization in Reno the next few years. It’s easily conceivable that a person buying a home in Reno today could find their home worth 20-30% less 5 years from now. Not a great investment, unfortunately.

  4. Avatar MikeZ says:

    Interesting link …

    Think the housing slump is over? Think again.

    http://www.thebigmoney.com/articles/money-trail/2010/04/02/spring-fools?page=full

  5. Avatar Sandra says:

    KingBud,

    Why do you say it will be unfortunate if housing prices drop another 20-30% in the next 5 years?

    Some of us are of the opinion that falling prices are not the problem. They are the solution.

    I have no idea whether your comment will prove to be accurate. Unlike so many others here who regard themselves as endowed with the ability to see the future, I claim to have no such powers. But if your comment proves to be correct, I say wonderful.

  6. Avatar DonC says:

    Sandra asks “Why do you say it will be unfortunate if housing prices drop another 20-30% in the next 5 years?”

    Sandra, deflation is about the worst possible thing for an economy. Maybe hyperinflation is worse. Maybe. It’s hard to imagine anyone really thinking that falling prices are a long run solution to anything since that would signify falling demand which in turn would signify falling incomes.

    Short term price drops to clear temporary inventory overhangs are a different story of course.

  7. Avatar Sully says:

    Another point to keep in mind, for houses built 2003 and later, was the rapid increase in material cost. Contractors couldn’t keep up with the rapidly rising costs of copper,steel, wood products, drywall etc.

    Sometimes prices would change at the supply houses from 7 in the morning to 12 noon,5 hours later. In California, you aren’t supposed to do that, but they did. Contractors can’t afford to shop around as time is a valuable commodity. The most expensive
    2×4 is the last one,that you made a special trip to get.

    Many houses in Reno were built since 2003 with inflated land and material costs that may take a very long time to catch up to.

    So a further drop in prices (in some areas) would be expected, as the houses are catching down (!) to the buiding cost levels of today.

  8. Avatar Sully says:

    Regarding price changes above, I was referring to the last minute item you were short. You shop around for best prices before you bid the job and hope they will hold for duration. Sometimes they are locked for 30 days sometimes not, so you have to buy and stock enough for the duration. Meaning a warehouse which increases cost.

  9. Avatar billddrummer says:

    To Phil,

    It’s nice to know that building has resumed in Cimarron East.

    Were you aware that 72 finished lots and 41 tentative lots are for sale from Wells Fargo Bank?

    Wells Fargo foreclosed on Units 3 & 4 in July 2009. Wachovia was the original lender.

    If you have a cool $4,000,000, you can own the whole thing.

    The tentative lots have really nice views.

  10. Avatar MikeZ says:

    [Sandra] “Some of us are of the opinion that falling prices are not the problem. They are the solution.”

    We’re already back to 2002 prices, in terms of median and PPSF.

    Using traditional guidelines for conventional financing, median household income easily supports the current median home price.

    Help me out here, Sandra, explain why you think home prices are still a problem (too high), because I just don’t see it.

  11. Avatar smarten says:

    MikeZ –

    Sandra thinks home prices are still too high because she wants to purchase one and she’s waiting for even lower prices. Apparently she doesn’t understand there’s no “me” in the word “home.” Wait a minute, I’m wrong; there is!

    And for our friend BB if he’s lurking out there in stealth mode [which I suspect he is], yes, January’s SFR median sales price dip [outside of the $170K-$180K strata] appears to have been an aberration.

  12. Avatar E.Edward says:

    Typical Realtors,

    Looky Tinkerbells…. Your all Dreaming if you think a complete federally subsidized market has stabilized….

    Even without all the pressures out there on housing?….No-Way these prices hold-up under normal rates….Prices are in line with wages?…Ya mean for the lucky ones making wages… Not a chance!

    ….Y’all been flip-in burgers to long… Brains are start-en to get clouded

  13. Avatar MikeZ says:

    You’re all dreaming if you think a complete federally subsidized market has stabilized.

    What “complete federally subsidization” are you referring to? The $8K home buyer tax credit?

    Prices are in line with wages?

    Yes, they are.

    Ya mean for the lucky ones making wages…

    First of all, unemployment is certainly high but not unprecedented and Mar’s jobs data (+162K) was pretty good.

    Secondly, it’s always been true that people with no wages can’t qualify for a mortgage to buy a house, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at…?

    In closing, I have an observation: the hyperbolic exaggerations like “completely federally subsidized” and others from Sandra and Sully (Teaser rates? Really?!) I’m seeing here from the bears denying the obvious stability in the data are very similar to the exaggerations from the bulls in 05/06, denying the obvious downturn in the data back then.

    It’s looks like the same Kool-Aid bucket to me, just a different flavor this time.

  14. Avatar LikeBigBottoms says:

    Rejoice, for the bottom has arrived!

    http://newobservations.net/2010/04/04/new-update-of-120-year-property-series-shows-22-percent-nationwide-fall-ahead/?source=patrick.net

    “New Update of 120-Year Property Series Shows 22 Percent Nationwide Fall Ahead”

  15. Avatar DonC says:

    MikeZ – I can see how somebody would say that it has become a federal housing market. Last week Geithner testified that, if you include Fannie and Freddie, the federal government is backing about 95% of all housing financing, and that Fannie and Freddie are accounting for 70% of all mortgages on single family homes. With respect to the latter, while 70% is a big number, it’s not so large as to meet the threshold of “completely federally subsidized”. In fact these loans are not really “subsidized” at all, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt — it was probably just inadvertently mis-stated as “subsidized” when they meant to say “backed” or “underwritten” or something.

    Completely with you on wages and employment. Plus the demographics look good. Short term movements are hard to impossible to predict but longer term there is more upside than downside.

    If you say the same thing long enough you’ll eventually be right. Or stated differently, even a broken clock is right twice a day. LOL

  16. Avatar billddrummer says:

    To DonC,

    Perhaps ‘subsidizing’ the mortgage loans themselves is a misnomer.

    I prefer to say the Federal Reserve has been ‘subsidizing’ low rates by purchasing agency mortgage backed securities for the past 18 months. With the Fed stepping out of that role, it will be incumbent on other investors to maintain investments in those securities–otherwise, there may be a sharp rise in mortgage rates, and a corresponding drop in the number of people who qualify for mortgage loans.

    If that happens, the double-dip (or double down) will begin.

    Happy recovery.

  17. Avatar Land Guy says:

    How can you people possibly think that prices have stabilized. Did you not see the NOD\NOS\TD chart for March. NODs up to nearly a thousand, a 100% increase in NOSs to nearly 800 and a 50% increase in TDs. Let’s see the resales keep up with that many homes coming through the system. Also, look closer at the numbers. Median came up, but $ PSF went down, looks to like we are just seeing larger, step-up, homes working through the cycle. Days on market is gaining showing that appetite is waining, and don’t get me started on the massive mortgage resets in Q3 of this year. Pass the cool-aid, but put some vodka in mine…

  18. Avatar DonC says:

    billddrummer — I think the Fed is stepping out because the markets don’t need the support. Mortgages are still less risky than corporate bonds, so you’d expect to see the bond rates move first. I doubt we’ll see a sharp uptick in mortgage rates but a slow upward trend is what most are projecting.

    Land Guy — In reality the numbers haven’t moved much for six months. Many here have talked about higher priced homes correcting, and in fact have suggested that you may see median prices rise even as prices for homes in that market segment drop.

    Personally I don’t see any huge moves downward — that seems behind us — but I don’t have a crystal ball. In the longer term the numbers show there is more upside than downside. Another way to put this is that good buying opportunities don’t show up that often so if you think you see one you should take advantage of it.

  19. Avatar billddrummer says:

    To DonC,

    Very good point, and on reflection, I think you’re on target. The risk premium between mortgages and the 10-year Treasury yield is beginning to narrow, and I wonder if rates will begin to move upwards (albeit slowly, as you suggest), as a result.

  20. Avatar KingBud says:

    Sandra,

    I agree with you. Home prices are too high, and I think a further price correction to bring price-to-household income ratios back to the historical norm of 3.5:1 to 4:1 is necessary.

    I definitely do not think that further price declines are a bad thing in an overpriced market.

    I was just posting from the perspective of a person reading the blog who might be considering purchasing a home in Reno right now, based on the premise that prices have been stable the last 6 months and now has developed the expectation that home prices are going to start increasing again in the near future.

  21. Avatar DonC says:

    KingBud – The problem with your assertion that a further decline is necessary to bring prices back to historical norms is that by historical norms Reno residential real estate is UNDERVALUED by 30%:

    http://www.ihsglobalinsight.com/gcpath/ValuationReport4Q10.pdf

    To get back to historical norms, prices need to increase by 30%. Could it go lower before it goes higher? Sure. At the end of 2005 the same basic study found house prices in Reno to be 47% — that’s a four and a seven — overvalued. So obviously at one point homes were 20% undervalued and went lower. And if interest rates spike that will put a lot of pressure on house prices. But unless your crystal ball will tell you when the bottom has arrived — if it hasn’t already — now seems as good a time as any. If not, what is your criterion? Is 32% undervalued good enough? 35%? How about 40%?

    If you’re buying for the longer term the numbers indicate now is a pretty good time to buy. You have a decent buffer even if interest rates move up. But if you want to flip, well that’s always a crap shoot.

  22. Avatar Sully says:

    DonC, that undervaluation is on a 164K house. We went over this before. The 164K market might very well be undervalued, but the over 350K market has some room to fall yet, based on historical prices.

  23. Avatar KingBud says:

    DonC,

    Thanks for the upload.

    Yes, according to the analyst at PNC, Reno homes are undervalued 30.3%. But if you look at his methodology for the study, he listed the following factors for valuing homes:
    1.interest rates
    2.household incomes
    3.population densities
    4.historical premia/discounts.

    What about the unemployment rate ? Unemployment is 13.7% in Nevada, I don’t have a current figure for Reno but it’s probably similar to the state’s rate.

    And what if expected interest rates are higher than current rates? That would also discount fair market value for homes.

  24. Avatar billddrummer says:

    Reno unemployment is 13.4%.

    http://detr.state.nv.us/Press/UI_Rate_Releases/2010/Feb_2010_rate_release.pdf

    And I believe the home price/income ratio should trend to 2.7:1 rather than 3:1 or 4:1.

    Median household income is approximately $62,400, according to http://www.factfinder.census.gov. That would translate to a $168,480 median sale price at a 2.7:1 ratio, $187,200 at a 3:1 ratio, or $249,600 at a 4:1 ratio.

    Now, a $62,400 household income could qualify for a $1,456/mo PITI payment with a 28% front end ratio. In other words, you could ‘buy’ a $205,000 mortgage with that income, just shy of the 4:1 ratio if you used conventional financing.

    Sounds like the 4:1 ratio works, doesn’t it?

    I don’t think it does, because it presumes the buyer has 20% to put down, and no more than an additional $416/month in other monthly payments.

    How many buyers have that kind of financial profile?

    I think the lower end of that sale price/income ratio fits Reno better than the higher end.

  25. Avatar smarten says:

    Billddrummer –

    Apply your analysis to the [depressed] San Francisco Bay Area median sales price and tell me what percentage of households can afford to purchase that median sales priced home. Same exercise insofar as the San Diego or Los Angeles median sales priced home is concerned.

    Now I understand Reno is Reno and the Bay Area is not Reno. But the point is that for essentially my entire adult life, only a very small percentage of average wage earners have been able to afford a Bay Area median sales priced home [yet they continued to sell and appreciate in value].

    Now things may be different now but I have never been of the opinion that housing prices will continue to fall until they reach some multiple of what the average wage earner can afford to purchase. Just my opinion.

  26. Avatar DonC says:

    Sully — The methodology is hardly so simple. It’s run at least two ways, including one way in which the house sales are weighted by value. The difference isn’t significant. I’m not sure why you think it’s limited to houses selling for $164K.

    KingBud — A single analyst doesn’t create the report. It’s a group. Not only has this report been around for a while, but Global Insight is very well respected. Again, keep in mind that this same methodology found that housing in Reno was OVERVALUED by 47% at the end of 2005. This was a published number, so it’s not like these guys are always saying it’s a good time to buy.

    As for unemployment rates, that would be reflected in average household income.

    billddrummer — I’m not sure what the Reno average household income is. I remember more like $68K-$69K. Also the income needed to service a mortgage depends on the interest rate so I’m not what number they’re using. Having said that, at a 4.5% interest rate, with 20% down, a $63K income qualifies you to buy a $270K house. I just don’t think anyone assumes 20% down. Probably 10% which would lower the house the $63K could buy to $237K.

  27. Avatar Sully says:

    Don, in answer to your question its because of extreme overbuilding the higher end from 2000 to present. The number of high end homes built exceeded the areas ability to absorb. That’s in a nutshell, it would take too long to explain my methodology and several pages of research.

  28. Avatar inclinejj says:

    For those of you who lived in Reno pre-boom and never been thru a boom and bust cycle.

    Reno was always a 10-12 an hour paycheck town. Wages and housing was cheap by Bay Area standards/

    The Bay area economy is so diverse and so many people make over 100k+ per year.

    Now that most realtors are out of business, and mortgage brokers all closed who makes 100k+ in Reno today.

    Doctors, attorneys, dentists, white collar college eductated professionals.

    Once the Fed’s get out of subsidizing mortages giving away tax credit money. Who is left to buy except investors with cash money and sharks at the courthouse steps.

    If you think prices are going to stablize I have news for you, they probably won’t, I see more downside in the markets then a slow sideways move for a couple years

    Don’t look for any up movement in the market till at lease 2013.

    To quote the Yankee great Yogi Berra. “It’s not over till It’s over”

  29. Avatar Riley says:

    According to the US Census Bureau, the median household income in Reno in 2008 (the last year available) was $57,875.

  30. Avatar MikeZ says:

    [Don C] “The problem with your assertion that a further decline is necessary to bring prices back to historical norms is that by historical norms Reno residential real estate is UNDERVALUED by 30%”

    No kidding!

    It’s like half the people here are simply immune to facts and data, if either don’t agree with their preconceived notions.

    Anyone who thinks Reno home prices are overpriced according to traditional, price:income affordability ratios is simply WRONG.

    Now that doesn’t mean prices can’t or won’t fall even further, but that’s orthogonal to the issue of affordability.

  31. Avatar billddrummer says:

    Thanks for all the comments. I’m glad we’ve got a civil discussion going on.

    As far as Bay Area homes and the propensity for them to appreciate, more than 75% of mortgages written in SF County over the past 10 years have been ARMs, which provide a way for people to ‘stretch’ their income to afford a larger mortgage.

    According to the report (DonC, thanks for the link) the undervalued condition is real if you look at the entire market. But as has been stated here many times, higher value homes (above $400K) aren’t selling in proportion to the number of listings above $400K. (And before I’m taken to task by the Bay Area contingent, remember that Reno’s median income is far below the counties that comprise the Bay Area MSA.)

    So, in a sense, I think we’re all partly right. It reminds me of the group of blind men who groped an elephant. One thought it was a tree, another thought it was a snake, and a third thought it was a wall.

    They were all ‘correct,’ based on their observations, but none of them saw the animal as an elephant.

    Again, thanks for the lively discussion. It’s one of the reasons this blog is so valuable.

    And I suppose this is just about the best time to buy residential real estate here. Not as an investment (unless you have the capital), but as shelter.

    And isn’t that what houses are for, anyway?

  32. Avatar inclinejj says:

    As of the census[13] of 2000, there were 180,480 people, 73,904 households, and 41,681 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,008.3/sq mi (2,611.4/km²). There were 79,453 housing units at an average density of 1,149.6/sq mi (443.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.46% White, 2.58% African American, 1.26% Native American, 1.29% Asian, 0.56% Pacific Islander, 9.26% from other races, and 3.60% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.18% of the population.

    There were 73,904 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.6% were non-families. 32.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.06.

    In the city the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 104.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.0 males.

    The median income for a household in the city was $40,530, and the median income for a family was $49,582. Males had a median income of $33,204 versus $26,763 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,520. About 8.3% of families and 12.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.3% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.

  33. Avatar billddrummer says:

    To inclinejj,

    Thanks for the statistics. I’m guessing that the demographic data applies only to the Reno city limits–Sparks and the unincorporated areas of Washoe County (including Sun Valley and Spanish Springs) are excluded.

  34. Avatar Sully says:

    billd – this is for the entire MSA which includes the areas you mentioned, basically the whole county.

    As of the census of 2000, there were 694,960 people, 274,237 households, and 183,786 families residing within the MSA. The racial makeup of the MSA was 80.54% White, 2.07% African American, 1.81% Native American, 4.25% Asian, 0.45% Pacific Islander, 7.61% from other races, and 3.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.47% of the population.

    The median income for a household in the MSA was $45,653, and the median income for a family was $55,689. Males had a median income of $38,175 versus $27,185 for females. The per capita income for the MSA was $23,960.

  35. Avatar Sully says:

    Note: it does include Storey county in the MSA.

  36. Avatar Sully says:

    I think that info is way off, here is a link for the county alone scroll down for the summary:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washoe_County,_Nevada

  37. Avatar billddrummer says:

    To Sully,

    Dataminers unite!

    IMO, the MSA numbers make more sense (to determine affordability) to me than the county-wide ones. After all, there’s not a lot of population once you get north of Palamino Valley. And I would guess you could live more cheaply in a rural setting than an urban one.

    I wouldn’t know. I’ve never lived in a rural setting.

  38. Avatar Sully says:

    billd, I didn’t think the 694K population was accurate for this area. I’m not sure exactly what was included in the MSA as opposed to the county by itself. The county had 339K pop. in 2000, where would the other 360K be in the MSA?

  39. Avatar billddrummer says:

    To Sully,

    I don’t know exactly, but as you mentioned, Storey County is included (Wadsworth & Fernley). And I was wrong–the MSA includes the entire county north to the OR state line, and east to the borders of Humboldt and Pershing counties.

    But I too think that the 694k population estimate is high. I guess we’ll just have to wait until our forms are counted to find out for sure.

    BTW, has everyone received their census forms?

    I haven’t seen mine. I wonder if I’m being skipped.

  40. Avatar Guy Johnson says:

    I recently downloaded Wolfram Alpha’s answer engine for my iPod. According to it, the populations for Reno, NV (based off of 2008 estimates) are:
    217,016 – city population
    303,689 – urban area population
    414,784 – metro area population

  41. Avatar LikeBigBottoms says:

    Oh, Snap!
    Even realtors are calling for lower prices ahead:

    From the conclusion: “The Median Price of all of the Pendings and Active Pendings in February was $165,000 indicating that there may be some further decline in Sold Median Price since Pendings reflect list price, not sold price.”

    http://www.rsar.net/News/Market_Reports.aspx

    This must be the bottom…

  42. Avatar DonC says:

    Oh my. It’s funny how people are always saying that “this time it will be different”. In 1999 when tech companies with no discernible business models were doing IPOs and raising tens of millions of dollars, in answer to why this made any sense the claim was “this time it’s different”. On the opposite side, when last spring stocks plunged so far that PEs approached 10, far below historical norms, the answer as to why this wasn’t a good time to invest was that “this time it’s different”.

    In real estate, in 2005, when housing prices were priced out of sight and Rent/Buy ratios were skyhigh, the answer to why the market wouldn’t correct was “this time it’s different”. And now, when real estate is undervalued and the Rent/Buy ratios are very low by historical standards, the answer to why the market won’t correct upwards is “this time it’s different”. Too much inventory. Pages of analysis. Whatever.

    At some point the time when things are different may arrive, but that will be the exception that proves the rule. Until then it would seem the more likely outcome is that things, including housing prices, will revert to their historical means. As for all this gloom and doom about jobs and housing, it would seem that the recovery is already well underway. For the first quarter in 2010 the economy added 1.1 million jobs. That’s a lot of jobs, and a lot of demand for housing. The last time we saw such robust job numbers was 2005! (For those wondering why the employment rate isn’t moving down the answer is that population is increasing so you have to add a ton of jobs to stay even — but demand for housing is driven by household formation not the employment rate per se).

    Rather than debating how long it will be until we see the bottom, perhaps the question should be whether we’ve already seen it. Here is a commentator from the WSJ on this issue:

    “Last summer I wrote that it was time to buy residential real estate if you were in the market and looking for a bargain. I never expect to call a market bottom, and certainly not for long-cycle assets like houses, but I seem to have come pretty close. The latest S&P/Case-Shiller survey results, released last week, suggest housing prices bottomed out around April 2009, when its 20-city composite index was down 32.6% from its peak reached in June/July 2006. Since then it has gained 3% through January 2010, with some markets much stronger, especially San Francisco and Minneapolis. (Charlotte, N.C., Las Vegas, Seattle and Tampa, Fla., continued to hit new lows, but at a much slower rate of decline.)”

  43. Avatar Sully says:

    DonC, if you’re so convinced why haven’t you already purchased one of these undervalued houses in Reno/Sparks?

  44. Avatar DonC says:

    Sully — Why haven’t I bought? The answer is that I don’t want to hassle with rentals (been there done that) and for personal reasons it’s been hard to get to Reno to look in earnest. I’m still in the “where” part of the search.

    I will say that my answer won’t satisfy many who are convinced the sky is falling. Smarten bought a house. His views are criticized on grounds that, since he bought, he has a vested interest in having prices go up. Under this argument his view is now “tainted” and can be safely ignored. I’m still on the buyer side, so that criticism doesn’t wash for me. But that isn’t giving you any pause. You seem to be saying: “You haven’t you bought, so your views can be discounted”.

    No winning with some people …

  45. Avatar Sully says:

    DonC, not really. It’s just you don’t live here, yet have the opinion that people here should be buying like crazy. I’ve already bought, but I’m not selling “now is a great time to buy”. Nor do I think this correction is over, at least in the Reno/Sparks area.

    Real estate is local, governed by local conditions – not national or necessarily California conditions. By most California standards (especially Bay Area) Reno/Sparks is cheap,but for the people that live and work here it’s still a bit lofty. Again, not all areas, but some are still listed with some lofty pricing for these times and conditions.

  46. Avatar billddrummer says:

    I haven’t bought because I’m still healing my credit, am on the back side of 55, and don’t particularly relish the prospect of borrowing 6 figures (or even mid 5 figures) to buy a place to live.

    My rent is manageable and I like my neighborhood (if not all my neighbors). I also don’t like doing my own repairs.

    If I can pay cash for a house, I’ll buy. Otherwise, I’ll rent.

  47. Avatar DonC says:

    Sully — What’s of course funny about the idea that all real estate is local is that is exactly the principle which allowed companies to take mortgages, slice and dice them, and then rate the resulting sausage higher than the constituent parts. (Take C rated paper from Minneapolis, add it to C rated paper from Los Angeles and Miami, and presto, you have B+ rated paper). Yes real estate is local, but it’s also true that rising or falling tides affect all ships. IOW it’s hard to believe that we’ll see a recovery that affects CA and the rest of the US but not Reno.

    As for comparisons to the Bay Area, no one is suggesting that you can judge Reno house prices by looking at Bay Area home prices. What you want to do is look at local incomes. When you do that, the Bay Area may be undervalued by 18% but Reno is undervalued by 30%.

    In this same vein, I’m not saying at all what you claim I’m saying. I haven’t said that people should be “buying like crazy”. Those are your words. What I’ve said is that if someone wants to buy a house, and they have a reasonable time horizon, the numbers suggest it’s a good time to buy because there is a lot more upside than downside at the moment. (Which doesn’t mean there isn’t a downside).

  48. Avatar billddrummer says:

    To LBB,

    Thanks for the link to the RSAR data. One thing I found interesting in the breakdown of February sales is inventory by price band.

    Just for fun, I punched up the number of active listings over $450K. Got 445.

    According to the report, 22 homes sold for more than $450K.

    If you project DOM for that price band, you get 606.8 days, or 1.66 years.

    Yet the overall days supply is 9 months.

    I believe that speaks to a shortage of homes in the lower price bands, borne out by a decrease in sales below $150K (typical starter homes) and in the $201K-$250K band (typical 1st time move-up).

    Or in other words, a bifurcated market.

  49. Avatar MikeZ says:

    RE: “The latest S&P/Case-Shiller survey results, released last week, suggest housing prices bottomed out around April 2009…”

    The only time you can trust Case-Shiller is when it says prices are going down. 😉

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